State senator wanted religious bigots exempted from bullying law

Mon. November 14, 2011 11:40 PM by News Staff

matt epling

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Kalamazoo, Mich. - Republican Michigan State Sen. Rick Jones has abandoned attempts to insert a "religious and moral" clause in a law that would have allowed some bullies to get away with it.

"Matt's Safe School Law" is named for Matt Epling, a teenager who killed himself in 2002 after relentless bullying. It would require all districts to have an anti-bullying policy.

Jones' proposed clause exempted "statements of sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, pupil's parent or guardian."

"This is government-sanctioned bigotry," Matt's father Kevin Epling told the Detroit Free Press.

Jones said Monday he would drop his amendment, but that he only wanted to protect free speech.

Michigan is one of three states without an anti-bullying law.